Nearest Green Distillery located in Shelbyville, Tennessee closed its doors to the public and like the rest of the world went virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic. Though the main entrance for the public was closed the construction entryway was never closed and crews never missed a beat while construction continued on their $50 million distillery and visitor experience.
Nearest Green Distillery Juneteenth Grand Reopening
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If you have ever met or heard Nearest Green Distillery Founder and CEO Fawn Weaver speak you know she’s a leader. Very little happens by accident around her. It all happens with a purpose and goal in mind. In order to protect her employees and fans she closed the doors to the distillery early on in the pandemic with no plans to reopen until it was safe for everyone. Now, more than a year later that time has arrived and a date was picked. As someone that plans with a purpose, she picked June 19th which is now officially recognized by the United States government as Juneteenth.
The Juneteenth reopening is to celebrate the accomplishments of all African American people in U.S. history, including the distillery’s namesake Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved man now known as the first African American master distiller on record. The Nearest Green Distillery and visitor center is expected to welcome more than 10,000 fans to the distillery this Juneteenth.
“At Uncle Nearest, everything we do has significance beyond the product we sell – it’s why our main hashtag on social media is #MoreThanWhiskey,” said Weaver. “We could not be more honored to have the opportunity to share the history of Tennessee, and to couple that with honoring the history of one of the greatest figures in the spirits industry, Nearest Green. It’s a distillery experience unlike any other, and nothing can prepare guests for what they will see when we reopen our doors this weekend.
“You literally could have been anywhere else and you are here with us celebrating this so we are incredibly grateful.
“Here’s the thing. It is Juneteenth, now and officially a recognized national holiday…What I will say is when you come inside this building, when you walk through look at every element. If you did not get a tour spot it’s ok. There is so much still for you to see, so much for you to do. I want to make sure that when you come through really, really soak it in because what you are about to see is literally our ancestors wildest dreams.”
Weaver and Victoria Eady Butler, fifth-generation Nearest Green descendant and Master Blender for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, hosted more than 100 descendants of Nearest Green from around the country for a private preview party two days prior to the public opening. Green’s descendants came from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and of course Tennessee.
Phase II of Construction Continues on this $50 Million Distillery and Destination
Formerly home of the famous Sand Creek Farms, a Tennessee Walking Horse farm and event center, the Nearest Green Distillery officially opened its doors on September 14, 2019. While open, the distillery experienced sold out tours, and has become known as a full-blown destination for whiskey enthusiasts, Walking Horse lovers and families.
Construction has continued on the site over the last year. Weaver says the distillery building was pre-fabricated offsite and is ready to go up. It’s just waiting for a few days of warm, dry weather to pour a pad then it will go up.
Here are a few renderings of the Nearest Green Distillery and what visitors can expect to see in the near future.
Travelers visiting the distillery starting on June 19 will experience the newest elements of the property, including:
- The Welcome Center where visitors will learn the history of the three things Tennessee is most known for: Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee walking horses and Tennessee music. Transformed from a former horse show arena, the retail space was designed by the former president of Disney Stores Worldwide, James Fielding, while the history narrative walls were designed by visual storyteller, Cyndi Williams.
- A not-your-average Concession Stand that features snacks available around the world, but which originated in Tennessee (like Mountain Dew, Goo Goo Clusters and even cotton candy). A large red refrigerator doubles as a secret door that gains visitors entry to…
- Philo + Frank’s, the world’s first non-alcoholic speakeasy, where there is something for the whole family to enjoy. Every detail of the designed space tells an important piece of Tennessee’s pivotal role in women obtaining the right to vote and what the women of the Temperance Movement were really after.
- Barrel House BBQ & Brew where visitors can enjoy a famous “Grilled Cheese on Crack” at Chuck Baker of BBQ Pitmasters’ second restaurant, and the first location outside of Lynchburg, Tennessee.
- The #WhatLiftsYou Angel Wings mural by famed muralist Kelsey Montague. Created especially for the Nearest Green Distillery, the wings weave elements of Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee music and Tennessee walking horses throughout.
- The Family Tasting Room where visitors can receive a guided tasting of Uncle Nearest’s portfolio of aged whiskeys.
- Victoria’s Master Blender House, where she works hard every day to blend Uncle Nearest’s award-winning whiskeys.
Later this summer, two more additions will open as part of Phase Two – Humble Baron, an entertainment venue, restaurant and home to the world’s longest bar, and the Nearest Green Still House, where Uncle Nearest will distill its premium whiskeys for centuries to come.
Thom Meek of GHP Environmental + Architecture and former Tennessee Walking Horse champion was brought on in 2017 to help bring this distillery vision to life and continues to serve as the architect on the project. Cyndi of Story Form Design, a 100-percent female-owned company, was brought on as the designer to ensure every element of the distillery provides a sensory experience. Rodney Allen of RJAgency, who has been working with the Uncle Nearest team since 2018, led the creation and fabrication of marketing collateral and environmental design.
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey honors the world’s first-known African American master distiller, Nearest Green. Uncle Nearest is currently available in all 50 states and 12 countries, and is sold in more than 25,000 stores, bars, hotels, restaurants, and at its 270-acre distillery in Shelbyville, Tenn., dubbed as “Malt Disney World.”